July 28th every year is observed as “World Hepatitis Day.” A day dedicated to creating awareness about viral Hepatitis and preventive measures.
Table of Content:
History & Significance of World Hepatitis Day
What is Hepatitis?
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Prevention and Control
History of World Hepatitis Day
World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28th in honour of Dr. Baruch Blumberg’s birthday. He discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and later developed the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis is a global health concern. There are 300 million individuals living with hepatitis B worldwide*. This emphasizes an urgent need to spread awareness about this disease.
On World Hepatitis Day 2023, WHO highlights the need to prevent this disease and encourages the healthcare system to take necessary steps to scale up the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of liver disease, thereby achieving the hepatitis elimination goal by 2030.
Significance of World Hepatitis Day
Hepatitis is one of the significant causes of deaths globally. The deaths caused by Hepatitis are equal to those of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Hepatitis B and C are the leading causes of deaths in more than 80% cases of liver cancer worldwide.
Viral Hepatitis is not found in a particular location. It is a global epidemic that affects many people across the world. Unfortunately, not everybody is aware that they are suffering from Hepatitis, and that they can be a potential carrier of the disease.
The elimination of viral Hepatitis is achievable with the availability of vaccines for hepatitis B and C. But awareness and understanding of the disease and the risk is also important among the general people.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is referred to the inflammation of the liver. This is caused by a variety of infectious viruses and non-infectious agents, leading to several health problems which can be fatal and life-threatening.
Hepatitis virus has five main strains, referred to as hepatitis type A, B, C, D, and E. All these variants are related to liver disease. However, they differ from each other in the ways they are transmitted and their severity.
Hepatitis B and C lead to critical disease in people. Both these types of Hepatitis are the most common cause of liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and hepatitis-related deaths. As per WHO facts, approximately 354 million people across the globe are living with hepatitis B or C, and unfortunately for most, testing and treatment are beyond their reach*.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
In many cases, people with hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E experience mild or no symptoms.
Some symptoms of Hepatitis A, B, and C may include nausea, fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, dark-colored urine, abdominal discomfort, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Sometimes, the virus can cause a severe liver infection that eventually develops into cirrhosis or liver cancer. Such patients are at high risk of death.
Hepatitis D (HDV) is common in people infected with hepatitis B (HBV). The dual infection of both viruses (HBV and HDV) can cause a severe infection and poor health outcomes, causing cirrhosis. However, Hepatitis D is a rare type of Hepatitis.
Hepatitis E (HEV) begins with mild fever, nausea, reduced appetite, and vomiting for some days. Some people may also experience itching (without skin lesions), abdominal pain, skin rash, or joint pain. They may also exhibit jaundice with dark urine and pale stools, a slightly enlarged, tender liver (hepatomegaly), or occasionally acute liver failure.
Hepatitis Prevention Measures
Hepatitis Vaccines reduce the risk of contracting the disease. If you have not taken these vaccines yet, you must consult your doctor and take the vaccination and ensure the same is given to your children too.
Improved sanitation, food safety and immunization are the most effective ways to combat hepatitis A. Adequate supplies of safe drinking water, proper disposal of sewage within communities, and personal hygiene practices such as regular hand washing with soap and water before meals and after going to the bathroom are some effective ways to prevent Hepatitis.
Hepatitis can spread by coming in contact with infected body fluids such as: Blood, Serum, Semen, Vaginal fluid. One must avoid direct contact with the blood and bodily fluids of others, especially of an infected person.
Ensure new sterile needles are used for ear or body piercing, tattoos, and acupuncture.
Be as safe as possible. Refrain from engaging in risky sexual activities, take precautions against transmission, and get tested regularly for other forms of hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Wear single-use gloves while giving first aid to someone or if you need to clean up blood or body fluids and dispose the same safely after use.
Hepatitis is a highly contagious disease fatal to liver health and overall health. Therefore, individuals must ensure that they are vaccinated and take utmost preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing Hepatitis.
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